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engaged in them; and the increase must either be drawn from the pockets of consumers or extracted from the wages of laborers." -(Page 286.)
Monstrous! The idea of a combination being organized to increase its profits! What an example to the youth of America ! What utter demoralization would ensue did it become the habit of our citizens generally to go into trade to increase their profits ! Let every statesman, every Economist, every preacher in the land, impress upon this generation rather the duty of every man to go into trade for the good of somebody else, and to continue therein to lessen, not to increase, his worldly store! Let him run his business, his warehouse, his factory, his steamships and raitruads at a loss, and, the moment he finds his transactions profitable, let him wind up, lest he should “swell the profit of capital”; and if he will not, let the law, or Mr. Hudson, see to it. The statements that an assumed increase in the price of coal imposes a burden of $15,000,000, or of any other upon the labor that consumes the coal" or on labor in the various forms in which that product finally reaches the consumers," may have a meaning in Mr. Hudson's ears. But indeed they do not convey any elsewhere.
So long as the tendency of the products of the earth is to find a market, just so long will it be the tendency within that market for the handling of different classes of products to centralize, until corn and grain are handled in one locality, pork and packed provisions in another, fruits in another, hides and pelts and leather in another. Here is natural law, and here is Mr. Hudson, too, demonstrating the imminent danger to the United States from the normal operation of this natural law. There is, of course, but one remedy for all this (though Mr. Hudson, indeed, fails to point it out), namely, a strong centralized, paternal government like that of the late Brigham Young, who walked in and out among his people, encouraging them in their efforts to amass fortunes; and then, when the fortunes were amassed, receiving heavenly visions instructing the “sealing” of those fortunes to himself! There would be no Trust possible in such a government
as that, anyhow! Such a governmental paternity, to be sure, might answer Mr. Hudson's purposes in confiscating the accretions of private capital. But it is difficult to see how otherwise than under just such a particular state we could enjoy the reforms he seeks.
Whenever it shall appear, or come to pass, that the interests of consumers (that is, of the people) are imperiled by the methods which the ramifications of modern civilization impose upon commerce and the operations of trade, it may come within the constitutional jurisdiction of Congress to inquire into and abridge those methods. But until such time shall come is it not, or ought it not to be, a question whether gentlemen who assume to deal with economic questions do not owe some duty to their countrynot the old Greek idea of patriotism, perhaps, but still a duty-and whether that duty might not properly consist in declining to supply specious and sophistical propositions to become fire-brands in the grasp of poverty and of ignorance?
Bur Mr. Hudson does not content his fluent
with diatribes as to combinations in general. He has uttered and printed a volume of six hundred pages, entitled “ The Railways and the Republic," in which, with some literary knack, he has run together all the newspaper and magazine stories-doubtless many of them only too true—he has ever heard of clever and unscrupulous deals in Wall Street, and "jobs” in State legislatures, breaking the whole mass into chapters with such headings as “The Problem of Railway Domination,” “ Ten Years of Discrimination,” “ The History of a Commercial Crime,” “Public Obligations and Corporate Practices,” “ The Discussion of Remedies,” etc., etc., which, however--interesting subject titles as they are—do not usher the reader to anything except the same class of stories, lumped in precisely the same inconnection (even the last chapter named, so far from a "Discussion of Remedies," being of the same scrappy and hearsay character.)
But, were Mr. Hudson's book only hearsay, it would hardly be worth warning anybody against it. Most unfortunately for its readers, the hearsay (for there is not an item or statement in the whole six hundred pages as to which Mr. Hudson has, or claims to have, the slightest personal knowledge or special access) is sometimes concatenated into a remark or a reflection that, to a casual perusal, might carry a sort of semblance of coherence. Here, for example, is one of these concatenations: (Page 279).
“When too much grain, too much meat, too much iron, too much cloth, and too much coal is produced in the country, the fact that labor suffers from the lack of grain, meat, cloth and coal, proves that there are barriers to trade between the producers. The most prominent and most universal of these barriers are the railway pools. The combinations which are formed with the purpose of raising the cost of exchanging the grain of the West for the goods of the East above the level that would be reached by the workings of competition ; which restrict the production of fuel and sustain artificial prices to consumers, when thousands are freezing; which build up monopolies in the agents of light and heat; and which are everywhere imposing restrictions upon trade which create the paradox of general want in the presence of universal abundance, are offering the greatest provocation to violent and dangerous attacks upon the railway interest. Whether the popular feeling is provoked to express itself in adverse and extreme legislation, or whether the work of combination is perpetuated and extended until monopolies like the petroleum and coal pools become universal, and an exasperated and maddened proletariat tears the whole system down in general ruin, the evils of that policy will, if continued, eventually bring a revulsion beside which its questionable pecuniary gains will be as a mole-hill on the side of Himalaya. Not only in the interest of public justice and free competition should the railways abandon their present work of suspending competition and building up monopolies ; but
the instinct of self-preservation should lead them to restore the free and unrestricted working of the legitimate influences of trade. The abandonment, or continuance, of the pooling policy, as sketched in the preceding pages, may involve the safety or ruin of the entire railway interest of the continent." Now, rhetorically speaking, this reminds of nothing quite so forcibly as the once famous “ Item” which Mr. Mark Twain tells us his esteemed friend, Mr. John William Skae, once stopped the press of The Californian to insert; and which ran as follows:
“Last evening, about six o'clock, as Mr. William Schuyler, an old and respectable citizen of South Park, was leaving his residence to go down town as has been his usual custom for many years with the exception only of a short interval in the spring of 1850, during which he was confined to his bed by injuries received by attempting to stop a runaway horse by thoughtlessly placing himself directly in its wake and throwing up his hands and shouting, which if he had done so even a single moment sooner must inevitably have frightened the animal still more instead of checking its speed, although disastrous enough to himself as it was and rendered still more melancholy and distressing by reason of the presence of his wife's mother, who was there and saw the sad occurrence, notwithstanding it is at least likely, though not necessarily so, that she should be reconnoitering in another direction when incidents occur, not being vivacious and on the lookout, as a general thing, but even the reverse as her own mother is said to have stated, who is no more, but died in the full hope of a glorious resurrection, upwards of three years ago, aged eighty-six, being a Christian woman and without guile, as it were, or property in consequence of the fire of 1849, which destroyed every blasted thing she had in the world. But such is life. Let us all take warning by this solemn occurrence and let us endeavor so to conduct ourselves that when we come to die we can do it. Let us place our hands upon our heart and say with earnestness and sincerity that from this day forth we will beware of the intoxicating bowl.”
Mr. Skae's item to be sure was only mortuary and, towards its conclusion, didactic. But Mr. Hudson's is assertive and peremptory. He begins by asserting that there is too much iron, too much coal and too much cloth produced in this country. Before the
reader has pause to breathe his next assertion comes, viz: “Labor," is suffering for the want of certain other staples, and this double stunner of politico-economical information is clinched with the rapidly successive statements that the two together “prove” that there are barriers to trade somewhere ; that these barriers are the railway - pools ; ” that these are formed, etc., etc. ; that, etc., etc. ; that etc., etc. ; that if this sort of thing goes on, that etc., etc., and finally winds up with a threat that unless all that has gone before is not speedily stopped the whole railway system of he country will go to smash.
But we do not propose examining Mr. Hudson's book rhetorically. Unfortunately, however comic its ensemble, the result of such loose writing just now, in the present state of affairs, is not comic. This sort of thing is perilling vested rights; is preventing the adjustment of commercial and social inequalities ; is bringing absolute wrong and suffering upon innocent investors and property holders. The outrageous and unmitigated falsehood that a railway “pool” is really a “corner,” in transportation (which will be discussed further on in these pages) is really the least harmful thing in the paragraph above quoted. The facts that a “ pool is operated to reduce tariffs, and must in the nature of things have that result; that there is no practical exchange or barter of coal for iron, or cloth for meat and the like, are not, unhappily, easily demonstrated to the “proletariat.” The real vital danger to the masses of the community from such declamatory slop-work as the above, is that it is quotable for what it sounds to be, and not for what it is; that once it gets itself into print it can be used for harm; the book which contains it read from before the eyes of a class to whom books are things of awe and respect, and that it can be made a text for heaven knows what comment, what harangue and with heaven knows (and this people lately have come to suspect) what danger to the public peace and safety.
The American railroad, as an institution, is not immaculate. Its general offices are no more insured against entrance of designing and wickedly-minded men than is the pulpit, the Sunday